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Seven ways the iPad is a boon for book lovers


Fellow TUAW blogger Michael Grothaus gave us his take on utilizing the iPad as an ebook reader over the weekend. It's is a good look into some of the down sides of ebook readers like the iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader, et. al. I'm the type of bibliophile that reads a lot of different things at once. I'll be reading a couple of novels, along with several volumes of manga, at a time -- going back and forth as I feel like reading the particular book.

While I do agree that traditional books aren't going anywhere soon, there are some rather big positives the iPad does bring to the literary world.

Easy access to public-domain literature. I am in the process of launching a webcomic that requires a lot of research on literature that's already in the public domain, such as "The Wizard of Oz" with a few swipes. I had the initial book in the series, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," on my iPad and read it over the course of a few hours. Being a Kindle graduate, I found the process fairly easy and quickly loaded up some other titles onto the iPad. Of course, many of these are available for most ereaders thanks to Project Gutenberg.

Presenting old classics in a new form.
I encourage anyone with an iPad to try out the sample of this interactive version of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. It is simply superb, and really shows the possibilities of what the iPad can do for reading. Another example is The Elements, one of the initial iPad apps that got raves and with good reason.

If you don't like iBooks, there are alternatives
. The moment any reader gets an iPad, they should they load iBooks and Amazon's Kindle app and Stanza. The Kindle app especially has a few features over iBooks such as the ability to read white print on a black background, which is easier for some people. I also love that I can read my original Kindle purchases on the iPad. Thank you, Amazon!

Customize your reading experience. Face it, rotten eyesight affects many of us. The iPad makes it easy to enlarge text, change the font, bookmark, utilize the dictionary to look up a word, even control the brightness from within the app. What it can't do though is change the page itself to be white on black or black on sepia. For that, you'll need the Kindle app. Same goes for note-taking. Once more, the Kindle app tops Apple in this area. Being able to take notes in iBooks should be a no-brainer and I hope Apple remedies this sooner than later.
The iPad (and Kindle) is a godsend on long-distance trips and exercising. When I visited my now-husband in the UK last fall, I packed along my Kindle and saved myself some heartache. Granted, I came back with so many physical books that we wound up having to ship them ahead; but for the actual flight, I didn't have to worry about packing enough books to keep the boredom away and simply bought a few books for the Kindle. I also tried out the iPad while at the gym and found reading books to be a fantastic experience. The iPad stood up on the elliptical machine I used with no problem and it was far easier to tap to turn a page than fiddle with paper.
Spending book dollars more wisely, and save space as well (and your back). My husband just gives me an odd look when I inform him we need yet another bookcase because I've hauled home more paperbacks. Now, if I want to try an author out, I can grab a sample of the book using iBooks or Amazon and see if I want to shell out the money to read the entire thing. Likewise, I can also save money and spend it on nice hardback editions of my favorite authors or books that just aren't practical to have in e-format. It'll also save space -- especially since for me the biggest hassle in moving, other than the cats, is packing all the books. Other people who would benefit from space saving includes students and older adults looking to down size as they head into retirement.

If you really love the series, you're going to own it in more than one format.
I'm guilty of this. I have hardbacks of all the available J.D. Robb mysteries (those that aren't in hardback in paperback), audiobooks and now a few ebooks. I'd do the same thing with Harry Potter if J.K. Rowling ever relents and allows that series to be released in ebook format.

I do agree there are some drawbacks. I found the iPad a bit harder to curl up and read with, but usually placing a small object under the iPad to prop it up in my lap fixed that. Not everyone will like the backlit display -- I happen to love it. I really wish there were more publishers releasing comics and manga on the iPad. Comics from comixology is pretty awesome and reading comics on the iPad is a dream using that app, but it doesn't offer all the series I want -- especially DC Comics and manga publishers like Viz, TOKYOPOP, Del Rey and Yen Press.

Ebooks, be it through the iPad, the Kindle, another device or some mythical product that hasn't been dreamt up yet, isn't everyone's cup of tea. I definitely understand some of Michael's frustrations. But, the advantages that the iPad presents to readers, in my opinion, far outweighs the pitfalls.

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